Nothing unique about uni wage deals to come

Round eight of enterprise bargaining is underway at universities across the country – it may be the last of its kind

What’s in and out in the government’s new industrial relations legislation is changing fast but there’s a fair bet that what passes parliament could have a major impact on universities.

This could happen if managements or unions, want one agreement to cover institutions, with “common interests,” say, similar markets and missions, resources and regions. If a majority of staff in each uni involved agreed, union and management reps could do deals that applied to all in the set, perhaps by reaching terms at one institution and then asking the Fair Work Commission to have it introduced at others.

This might work out alright, say for managements at similar regional unis, but not so much in big cities where old and rich institutions could afford wages and conditions that newer, smaller institutions would hate to have imposed.

It would surely give unions an opportunity to set a top standard for wages and conditions, which could be extended to other unis. Such thinking was around last week when opponents of a wage offer at Southern Cross U argued it was less than Western Sydney U new pay agreement.